The men and women who work in the Texas oil and gas industry face daily workplace hazards, including significant chemical exposure risks. According to the CDC, this is a leading cause of fatalities in the industry. Owing to the presence of heavy machinery, the need to travel to remote areas, and the risks from chemicals, the oil and gas industry is a comparatively dangerous sector to work in.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you expect your employer to have your back. That is, however, not always the case. Sometimes, injured oil and gas workers find themselves in prolonged legal battles against their employers and insurance companies who refuse to compensate them adequately for their injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you should retain an experienced Texas oil and gas industry injury lawyer who can fight on your behalf.
Chemical Exposure and the Oil and Gas Industry
Dangerous chemicals are present during the extraction, transportation, and processing of oil and gas. Some of the most dangerous chemicals include:
Containing toxins such as benzene, butane, and methane, the fumes from petroleum are a significant risk for anyone who works around oil storage tanks. In the industry, these gases are sometimes called “sweet gas” or hydrocarbon gas, and they can kill you instantaneously in high enough doses. In smaller doses, they have been known to cause cancers and damage to the nervous system, liver, and kidneys.
This gas results from the decay of organic matter, and is released during the extraction of oil and gas fields. In the industry, hydrogen sulfide is also known as “sour gas.” In addition to being highly flammable, this gas is fatal in high doses and can cause severe irritation of the skin and eyes in smaller exposures.
The trucks and construction equipment at extraction sites all run on diesel fuel, and their exhaust is toxic. Breathing in black smoke from engines is a routine part of the job, but it has long-term health consequences. Diesel exhaust contains particles and chemicals that can cause nausea, headaches, eye and nose irritation, respiratory diseases, and cancer.
Mercury is naturally present in oil, and it accumulates in pipes and processing equipment. Workers who handle this equipment may become exposed to mercury. Exposure is hard to notice at first. But over time, victims can develop central nervous system damage, which causes hearing loss, tremors, blindness, anxiety, and personality changes. Mercury also damages the kidneys, and can poison unborn children.
Your employer should take steps to minimize the risks from these and other dangers in the field. You and your co-workers should receive proper training and safety equipment including masks, goggles, gloves, and hazmat suits when necessary. Your site should follow standard operating procedures that take these hazards into account to provide you with a safe workplace. If your employer breaches these duties and you get injured as a result of chemical exposure, you may be in a position to pursue a claim against them in court.
Contact a Texas Oil and Gas Industry Injury Lawyer for Help
The workers’ comp process does not always adequately compensate you for your losses after a workplace injury, or when you come face-to-face with chemical exposure risks. If there is evidence that you were injured because of your employer’s negligence, you may be entitled to a settlement or jury award for your damages. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we will fight for you to get the most compensation possible after your injury by advocating on your behalf while you focus on getting better.